University of Toronto
3 min

Sorry, honourable senators – March Break is cancelled

The day started out very early for some. Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth, on the Senate’s National Finance committee, told me that she’d been going since 7.30. After all, Jim Flaherty was coming to see the committee, and they had questions for him.

And questions they had. And while Flaherty came in instantly with a scolding, and warned them that they’d better pass the budget implementation bill immediately and not after they come back from next weeks’ break, the Senators told him not to worry – they were going to work through the break week to get it passed in time for the spending to be released on April 1st. Of course, those words went in one of Flaherty’s ear and out the other, since he kept repeating that threat the rest of the day.

Oh, and Nancy Ruth? Asked for information on links between infrastructure stimulus and research dollars, and then later demanded the data behind the ostensibly “gender-balanced” budget aspects, and she didn’t care if it meant more work for officials. In her estimation it should have been done in the first place, and she wasn’t taking no for an answer.

Around noon, the Prime Minister was in Brampton, Ontario, to make what was going to be his first major speech about the recession. And by all accounts – it bombed. Not only was he insensitive to the realities of the recession for most Canadians, he actually said this: “If you own a home and you have a wife, you will probably be doing home renovations this year.” Seriously? Seriously? Is it any wonder that Michael Ignatieff asked what planet Harper was living on? (Scott Feschuck, political humorist and former speechwriter for Paul Martin, dissects – or should I say eviscerates – the speech here).

Question Period dealt a lot with the speech, although for once, it wasn’t all about the slush fund. But there were a lot of threats to the Senate coming from Flaherty in reply (while most of us were going “didn’t they just say that they were going to work through the break week?”). There was a rare bit of constructive dialogue during Question Period when both Liberal Denis Coderre and another Bloc MP (whose name I didn’t catch) asked about how it is that a former aid to the displaced Prime Minister of Haiti has been recommended for a post on the Immigration and Refugee Board. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney first said that said person had passed the security checks, but said that he would be looking into it. Isn’t this the kind of thing that Question Period should be about?

Of course, it was balanced out by some of the poorer examples of Question Period shenanigans. A suck-up question from the government backbenches cited a report in the Epoch Times that asserted that Michael Ignatieff would cancel the Universal Child Care Benefit if he came to power. As Diane Finley screamed exhortations about Ignatieff in response, Ignatieff sat in his chair giving the universal sign of “Huh?”

Sartorial snaps went out to Carolyn Bennett’s black suit with the red Haida-print lapels – very cool, as well as to Conservative backbencher Candice Hoeppner’s black velvet jacket and pearls.

Lisa Raitt and Kristy Duncan continued to have good jacket days, and Alexandra Mendes red plaid shirt was quite smart looking.

But style citations go out to Pierre Poilievre for his purple shirt and brown jacket, which clashed horribly. A different purple with a chocolate brown might have worked – but this was just bad. But the worst was NDP MP Megan Leslie – again. Sure, the short black dress and the grey jacket would have looked nice – if she didn’t insist on wearing red tights and tied a pink scarf around her neck. No, wrong! So very wrong! I fear that the woman is a style menace and must be stopped.

Incidentally, it was also the 50th anniversary of when the Dalai Lama went into exile from Tibet. There was a rally on the Hill in the morning, and several Members’ Statements were made about the event. Also during Members’ Statements, Mario Silva spoke about Armindo C. Silva and his contributions to the Portuguese community:

Madam Speaker, on March 28, 2009, Armindo C. Silva is to be honoured by the Portuguese Canadian community for his many years of public service. A wise man once said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile”. Armindo Silva is the embodiment of this ideal.
He arrived in Canada in 1961, started his own business, studied and received a master's degree in business administration from the University of Toronto. He has had a very successful business career. However, it is his work on behalf of others that we will celebrate this year. He is a founding member of the Federation of Portuguese Canadian Business and Professionals. He has pioneered scholarships for young people, worked as a fundraiser for the United Way, and served on the mental health advisory board of the Toronto Hospital.
These are only a few of his accomplishments. He brings to life a passion for community service and a deep understanding that we all have a responsibility to make our communities and our country a better place for all of us.
On behalf of all members of Parliament, I am pleased to recognize and honour the community service of an outstanding man who is an example to us all, Mr. Armindo C. Silva.